'Drifting To The Right' Infuses Humanity And Empathy In The Storytelling
Michael Gutierrez-May's 4th album, 'Drifting to the Right,' has 9 powerful and thought provoking indie folk tracks. With each song comes a story based in reality, inspired by the political upheaval and self-knowledge that Michael has experienced. His background as a therapist informs his lyrics, creating characters based in empathy and humanity.
"Brooklyn for Beginners" introduces the album and sets the expectation of what's to come. This ode to the city of Brooklyn is purely spoken word over a piano that helps lead his poem and sound effects that tell the story. But the unique part of the song is his kindness and love that you hear in his sultry voice. He gives off a welcoming vibe, inviting the listener to stay for the rest of the album.
The most empathetic song on 'Drifting to the Right' is the title song. "Drifting to the Right" is about a man, fictional though based in truth, who leans to the political right not necessarily because of his beliefs or because he's hateful, but because he's hurt, angry, and scared. He sings, "He's hurting and he's angry/He's looking for a fight/he's losing his perspective/ and drifting to the right." It's about how people change their perspective based on the internal factors within themselves as much as they do with external factors. He sings with the point of view of a fellow human, that people who lean this way are not bad people. He wants to understand, singing and writing from a point of view of empathy.
Similarly, "Head Full of Garbage" is about the same problem, though looking specifically at the incident on January 6th. The music is calming and the melody is angelic, but the underlying piano and guitar suggests another story, that on the surface everything seems cut and dry, but if you listen to the music underneath you can hear that it's more complicated and not as simplistic as the angelic melody suggests. The lyrics say the same thing. He suggests that these, people who participated and died on the events of January 6th, didn't get where they were because of a simple belief, but through fear, anger, and hate.
The album closes on a more folk-rock note. The upbeat "Imaginary Tomato" explores Michael's personal political views. He sings about how he went on a trip to Washington DC and had a negative feeling toward the Trump International Hotel: he wanted to through an imaginary tomato at it. He sings about his feelings in a positive way with an upbeat and rock style of music.
'Drifting to the Right' is by far the most unique album I've ever heard. It harkens back to storytelling the way it was meant to be. It takes you on a journey of empathy and love guided by the beautifully penned lyrics and intentional melodies.